The Real Crime-Busters

American social theorists are scrambling to explain a dramatic drop in violent crime, as if honesty and obedience to law are aberrations that need reasons to exist.

We prefer simply to welcome the good news. We pause, however, at one reason being touted for the drop in crime: that fewer unwanted children are being born in America because of the increasing availability of abortion to poor women since 1973 (see our story on Page 1 today).

One in four pregnancies in the US now end in abortion, and there have been 34 million legal abortions performed since the Supreme Court decision legalizing the operation.

Fortunately, that particular theory for less violence has not been widely accepted yet. And we flatly reject the idea that someone decides to rob a bank because his mother thought he was a "mistake" or that government should now encourage abortion to cut crime.

But there are other reasons being offered for the crime drop.

One is that baby boomers who once saw themselves outside the system now are the system. They are instilling respect for social order in their children. Many are fighting the casual drug use that they helped start.

Other theorists cite a robust economy, a more efficient justice system, widespread education, better social services, and the list goes on. Many of these theories are designed to influence how government operates, which is all well and good.

But an overarching reason for fewer Americans resorting to violence to solve their problems may be simply that they are more fulfilled and feel more complete.

We may be seeing natural progress in how people think about themselves - their core values, their relationships with each other, and their roles as citizens. Violence, despite what many academics believe, does not need to be inherent to American society, a hangover from frontier days. Rather, a wider civil society may be emerging.

That's why shedding violence isn't a surprise. It's the norm.

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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